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Russian opposition newspaper to arm journalists with 'traumatic weapons' to protect them from attacks

Dmitry Muratov makes the announcement days after Moscow radio editor Tatyana Feldenhauer was stabbed in the neck

Tom Embury-Dennis
Friday 27 October 2017 14:15 BST
Russian journalist stabbed: CCTV footage shows attacker entering building by blinding receptionist

Journalists on a Russian opposition newspaper will be armed with “traumatic weapons” to protect them against attacks, its editor has said.

Dmitry Muratov of the Novaya Gazeta, said he was being forced into the move due to “a host of assassination attempts” on reporters.

He made the announcement after Tatiana Felgengauer, deputy editor-in-chief at the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station was stabbed in the throat earlier this week.

She was seriously injured and is currently recovering in intensive care.

Ekho Moskvy is one of Russia's only independent radio stations. It is known for its regular criticism of Vladimir Putin's leadership.

A video released by the station showed a man handing over papers to a security guard at the building’s entrance, before suddenly squirting pepper-spray into his eyes and ducking under a turnstile to run inside.

The man then took a lift up to the radio station where he stabbed Ms Felgengauer.

Boris Grits, a 48-year-old with dual Russian and Israeli citizenship, has been charged in connection with the attack.

After the incident Mr Muratov told the same radio station that he had "no other options" but to offer weapons to staff on the Novaya Gazeta.

Journalists at the newspaper have suffered a series of attacks stretching back to the 2006 murder of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya.

“I am going to send some employees for [weapons] training," he said. "We will officially sign an agreement with the Russian Interior Ministry.

“We will buy traumatic weapons and train [our staff] to use them. And we will also equip our journalists with other means of self-defence that I won’t speak about.”

While the use of firearms is tightly regulated in Russia, traumatic weapons – guns that carry rubber bullets – are legal to buy in the country. They also have the potential to inflict lethal damage.

Kalashnikov Concern, a Russian gun maker, said it would offer a 10 per cent discount on traumatic weapons to journalists with the correct accreditation.

Responding to Mr Muratov, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitri Peskov said journalists had the right to protect themselves, but added: “Anyone can be subject to the attack of a crazy person, unfortunately no one is protected against this.”

Nadezhda Prusenkova, a spokesperson for Novaya Gazeta, made clear the newspaper would only provide weapons to reporters who asked for them, The Washington Post reported.

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